Replace The Mexico-US Border Wall With An Energy–Water Corridor?

WASHINGTON DC, United States

A group of US academics have proposed that the US and Mexico collaborate on a large scale energy, water, industry, and education park. The venture would be constructed along the nearly 2,000-mile arid and semi-arid mutual border and would benefits both sides, mitigating illegal immigration and providing an alternative to the proposed physical wall between the neighboring countries.

"Future Energy, Water, Industry and Education Park (FEWIEP): A Secure and Permanent US- Mexico Border Solution" posits that the border corridor has extensive solar and wind resources but is very short in water supply. In a purported “win-win” proposal, the project features wind farms, solar farms and water desalination, providing numerous educational opportunities and jobs. $1.1 Billion USD in addition to US Department of Homeland Security appropriations is requested for establishing FEWIEP.

A consortium of 27 engineers and scientists from a dozen US universities delivered the plan to three US representatives and one senator in February. “Let’s put the best scientists and engineers together to create a new way to deal with migration, trafficking—and access to water. These are regions of severe drought,” says Luciano Castillo, a professor of energy and power at Purdue University who leads the group. “Water supply is a huge future issue for all the states along the border in both countries".

In addition the researchers contend that the initiative would mitigate illegal immigration into the US, as it would provide infrastructure and employment opportunities.

“It has been decades since the United States undertook a project of this magnitude, but now is the time to advance big ideas to solve societally relevant problems and maintain our strategic position as a nation of energy innovators,” said Sara C. Pryor, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell University.

Even with limited, targeted deployments in the best-resource areas along the border, Pryor estimates that wind and solar energy could provide 16 gigawatt hours (about 25 percent of all US solar electricity generated in 2017) of electricity per day at competitive prices. The power supplied could be used in the electricity grid or be deployed for seawater desalination.

The academics suggest creating specialized institutes along the border that could expand innovations related to manufacturing, construction, engineering, management and agriculture.

The academics contend that the proposed energy-water corridor has the potential to host large agricultural production, relieve energy and water needs, and food shortages, reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and create wealth for the US and Mexico.

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